When Theresa Preston-Werner, wife of Github co-founder Tom Preston-Werner, issued a public apology over the scandal that caused her husband to resign, she hinted that he was already working on something new.
This might be that something: Codestarter.org, a non-profit that wants to give free computers to kid programmers. For every $US250 raised through donations, it will send a child an Acer Chromebook laptop, pre-loaded with a bunch of programming languages.
Codestarter.org is actually Theresa’s existing non-profit startup, previously named Omakase. Omakase is a TechStars New York 2014 company that initially had a much bigger mission. It wanted to crowdsource charitable contributions by pooling donations and sending them to a different charity each month.
One of the charities it supported was CoderDojo NYC, an organisation that teaches kids to code. Omakase raised enough to donate 20 Acer Chromebooks and decided that this was such a big hit, it would focus the entire company on that task, Theresa explained in the company’s blog post.
Since the company shifted its focus, the startup has already raised enough cash to cover another 108 laptops, Theresa said.
According to the old Omakase website, Tom was always involved as a strategic advisor. But at Codestarter.org, he’s listed as a co-founder, too. His wife is still the CEO.
Theresa and Omakase were embroiled in the controversy that ultimately led Tom to resign from his CEO role at GitHub.
A few months ago, GitHub employee Julie Ann Horvath publicly quit the company and accused the Preston-Werners of harassment. An internal GitHub investigation found no evidence that Tom Preston-Werner harassed anybody, but did find he’d made “mistakes and errors of judgment.”
Last month, Theresa wrote a public apology indicating those mistakes had to do with making some Github employees feeling “pressured by Tom and me to work pro-bono for my nonprofit.”
The controversy was shocking because Tom Preston-Werner and GitHub (with its super hip San Francisco offices) is a highly admired Valley company and a great success story. GitHub offers a service that helps open source developers manage their projects. It’s used by everyone, from the hobby programmer to the White House.
In 2012, after years of being profitable without any VC cash, GitHub raised $US100 million from Andreessen Horowitz — the largest investment from the legendary VC firm.
Tom Preston-Werner’s involvement with Codestarter.org may or may not be his next full-time project, but it should certainly make a lot of kids very happy.